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Third Prize

Zofia Fedorów

Serpen Time

The project ‘Serpentime. The Museum of Language in London’ is a reflection on the origins of the language. The aim of this project is to present the problem of language globalization, which opens vast amount of possibilities, but it also leads to language disappearance. We tend to unify our speech, losing the values of national dialects at the same time. What technology enables us is an access to information and worldwide communication but it also makes our language more primitive. It is much easier to express emotions through emoticons or gifs. This, as a consequence, might cause problems in language communication in real life. Our communication ends where it started, with simple sounds or images.

The whole project is based on the idea of language evolution. The timeline has been created forming the meaningful base of the whole project. Taking the context into consideration, the linear form has been squeezed in order to display its shape from the side of the river and the street. This is how the SerpenTime shape has been created. The name itself is a  combination of the word ‘serpent’ –  the movement of the snake which is the shaping of the building and  the passing ‘time’, which constitutes the main idea of the project.

The visitors start and finish their journey in an entrance hall, where the first languages are displayed. The hall is covered with wood, imitating irregular cave and presents basic forms of the language, illustrating human thoughts via pictures as in case of the cave drawings.

The next step is dead languages, extinct, with no users, such as Sumerian language. The room is made of glass and architecture archetypes, related to the certain language groups. The space enables echoes and memories of the ancient languages and cultures to be presented.

Yet another exhibition is reborn languages. Previously dead or vegetating, now turned into living due to political decision,  accepted by the local people.  New-Hebrew language is an example. In this case, there is a reference to the Renaissance – a synonym of rebirth through symmetry, geometry and contrasts.

The fourth exhibition is devoted to vegetating languages, which do not develop, used by small numbers of people and languages in danger of extinction. The examples of such a language are Sanskrit or Yukagir language. Steel verticals symbolize structure existing for centuries, slowly forgotten.

The fifth space represents living languages, serving the needs of contemporary communication of people, using them as natives, for example English. The aim of this exhibition was to create living, dynamic space thanks to mirror reflections and the  bevels.

Next, there is an opportunity to observe living, unofficial languages contemporarily used, such as internet language, sign language or icons. Silicon has been introduced as the main material in order to create organic, flexible space, symbolizing modern global architecture trend.

The last exhibition is the languages of the future, newly formed, such as programming languages. The space is a metaphor of the conceptualism, the main direction in contemporary art, where the thought, not the material form is essential. This is an empty space, the space for the concept itself, with the use of light and steam.

The project is a confrontation of the language of the architecture with other forms of the  languages ,when compared to the language and architecture evolution together. Each of these exhibitions constitutes inherent part of the story with the language as the main character.